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PR No.5 ECO VISION 2025 Islamabad

  1. 1.        VISION STATEMENT

 

In view of the rapid socio-economic, political and scientific developments taking place at the regional and global levels, and taking into account the opportunities and challenges before the Organization, it is envisioned that “ECO will pave the way to a territory of integrated and sustainable economies as well as free trade area achieved by highly educated societies and improved governance through enhanced cooperation”[1].

 

We resolve to make the Organization, better equipped to face challenges and advance the fundamental principles of the Organization to expand project based economic activities and develop and strengthen the ECO institutions, enabling them to play a proactive role in realizing the objectives of the Organization and implementing the Vision. We also recognize the need to strengthen the ECO Secretariat for realization of our vision.

 

2.     CORE PRINCIPLES

a.      Sustainability

We acknowledge that any long term benefits to the peoples of the region through social and economic programs depend on long term sustainable progress, therefore we express our resolve to support the global efforts aimed at addressing the challenges facing the international community. We share the goals and targets defined by the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit in September 2015 as enshrined in its outcome document “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”. In doing so, we will give priority to the immediate needs and concerns of our Region and its peoples as identified in this Vision. To this end, we will welcome partnerships with the relevant international and regional organizations.

 

We acknowledge the strong interdependence between peace and development, and reiterate our firm belief that peace and stability are essential for realizing the genuine goals of sustained economic growth, sustainable development and welfare of our countries and peoples. We recommit ourselves to continue supporting the national, regional and global efforts for assisting Afghanistan in its attempt to achieve lasting peace and prosperity.

b.      Integration

We are now a region representing a combined population of over 440 million people and have achieved noteworthy results in the economic field, such as increasing economic growth and reducing poverty as well as increased trade and investment flows over the past years.

 

We have, through mutual efforts undertaken necessary steps towards the socio-economic development of the region which has helped in achieving prosperity of our

peoples and steady improvement in their lives. We resolve to build upon these achievements and intensify our efforts to achieve the common goals.

Representing a diverse membership and equipped with vast natural and human resources that can contribute immensely to the generation of economic activity in the region, we acknowledge that our deep-rooted historical and cultural affinities are an important factor in fostering a sense of regional integration and cooperation, which can be strengthened through policy approximation in the selected priority areas.

 

For purposes of further development of economic cooperation in the region, we express readiness to intensify cooperation of the ECO with the other regional economic communities, international economic and financial institutions as deemed feasible by all Member States.

 c.       Conducive Environment

            Conducive economic environment in the Region is a pre-requisite for stimulating national economies of the Member Countries, boosting intra-regional cooperation and integration into the global economy. We reiterate our resolve to promote conducive environment in the region and take tangible steps to enable our people to utilise their abilities with vigour in pursuit of innovation, production and job creation, which are important components of our endeavours to make ECO an integrated and sustainable region. The enabling and conducive environment for regional cooperation will be achieved through adhering to the principles of equality, equity, mutual benefits and transparency.

CO-OPERATION AREAS

            To materialize the enhanced region al cooperation for economic growth and development in line with this Vision, we are determined to develop and implement strategies in the following areas during the next decade:

Trade

  1.            i.   Transport and Connectivity
  2.          ii.   Energy
  3.         iii.   Tourism
  4.         iv.   Economic Growth and Productivity
  5.          v.   Social Welfare and Environment

             A.  TRADE

  1. 1.    Strategic Objective

To double intra-regional trade increase ECO share in the global trade and specifically exports, increase share in global trade and tap regional trade potential for economic growth.

Policy Environment

As trade continues to be the engine of economic development and an instrument for socio-economic integration, expanding trade volumes is the need of hour for ECO. In 2015 the global ECO trade reached US$ 648 billion. This included exports of US$ 285 billion and imports of US$ 363 billion. ECO is a net importer from the world with a negative trade balance of US$ 78 billion. A large part of this can be diverted to ECO countries if ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA) is operationalized. In 2015 the total intra-ECO trade was US$ 58 billion which, at 9 percent, is far below its true potential.

 

Expanding trade volumes require trade liberalisation, harmonisation of policies, reducing the cost of doing business, financial infrastructure, and institutional capacity building. Harmonization of national policies is important for free flow of trade, harmonization creates compatibilities, maximizes economic efficiency and reduces transaction costs. Trade facilitation is another area of focus for ECO, as it reduces indirect as well as hidden costs, which is substantially high in ECO Region.

III.       Expected Outcomes

  1.            I.                The ECO Trade Agreement (ECOTA) will be operationalized and the membership of ECOTA will be increased.
  2.          II.                The scope of ECOTA will be enhanced from preferential trade to Free trade Agreement.
  3.         III.                Non-WTO Member Countries will be assisted in their accession to WTO
  4.        IV.                Following pending trade related agreements will be operationalized:
  5.         V.                ECO Agreement on Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters.
  6.        VI.                ECO Agreement on Joint Promotional Activities.
  7.       VII.                ECO Trade Facilitation Agreement.
  8.     VIII.                Regional Agreement on Cooperation in Taxation Matters.
  9.        IX.                ECO Visa Sticker Scheme for businessmen will be operationalized.
  10.         X.                ECO Reinsurance Company will be operationalized.
  11.        XI.                The role of the ECO Bank will be strengthened in the development of ECO economies. The membership of the Bank will be expanded.
  12.       XII.                Capacity Building Programmes for Trade Promotion Organizations of the Member Countries will be prepared and executed.
  13.     XIII.                Regional trade exhibitions and fairs will be organized.
  14.    XIV.                A robust trade financing programme will be launched for enhancing regional trade.

          B.  TRANSPORT AND CONNECTIVITY

Strategic Objective

 

To maximize connectivity, mobility and accessibility by making major ECO transport corridors commercially viable and operational and contribute to achieve goals of information society in the region.

Policy Environment

Transport, mobility and connectivity shall increasingly play a critical role in ensuring regional development, prosperity, social well-being, cohesiveness and realization of the Information Society. Accordingly, to achieve the maximum possible connectivity and its consequent impact on socio-economic development.

 

There is a compelling need to cooperate on fundamental transit related policy issues through increasing efficiency, creating a more harmonized and simplified legal and administrative framework by means of facilitating  accession to and implementation of major international conventions/agreements, aimed at simplifying procedures for movement of peoples and goods across the region and beyond, in an efficient way.

 

Other prerequisite to this end is full implementation of the Transit Transport Framework Agreement (TTFA); facilitating regular and commercially justified operation of ECO corridors/Routes, and modernization of border crossing points. Addressing the unique challenges faced by the seven landlocked Member Countries of the ECO need to be given paramount attention through inter alia providing for efficient and cost-effective transit access.

ICT connectivity will have inevitable impact on future development of the ECO Region through development of information and communication technology and integration in the global market, where information and communications technology is a contributor to sustainable and inclusive growth. To this end a “ECO – Regional ICT Strategy for Information Society Development” and “ECO Regional Strategy for Broad-band Development” will be developed and implemented with the aim to increase access to affordable broadband, removal of monopolies, maximizing competitiveness through strengthening private sector in provision of ICT related services and creation of an enabling environment for increasing the share of ICT related services and products in Member Countries GDP.

 

Expected Outcomes

            Regional transit transport infrastructure will be improved to bridge gaps and interconnect the Member Countries and the region with neighbouring regions and to reach international markets.

  1.            I.       Existing ECO Corridors will be Operationalized and commercialized to enable increased intra and inter-regional trade.
  2.          II.       Transport-related facilitative harmonized regulatory frameworks will be developed/supported.
  3.         III.       ECO Member Countries will be encouraged to accede to relevant regional and international legal instruments for ease of transit transport.
  4.        IV.       Administrative procedures and controls in inter-regional transport will be streamlined and simplified within the framework of TTFA.
  5.         V.       More efficient customs functions and modernized customs facilities in Member Countries will be supported.
  6.        VI.       Simplified visa and consular procedures for transit related activities and regionally or globally accepted insurance system will be activated in line with TTFA.
  7.       VII.       Access and increased use of ICT through increasing household and individual access to internet will be encouraged.
  8.     VIII.       Digital divide will be bridged through minimum provisioning of affordable high-speed internet access and enhancing the abilities of individuals.
  9.        IX.       Development and increased availability of digital local content will be encouraged. Efforts will be made to strengthen on-line trust and security for communities and businesses.
  10.         X.       ICT infrastructure will be improved through implementation / adoption of new technologies and regulatory reforms will be encouraged for increasing competition and access of private sector in provision of ICT services.
  11.        XI.       Institutional framework of ICT sector, development of digital literacy, skills and competencies in the region will be improved.

      C.  ENERGY

 Strategic Objective

 

To enhance energy security and sustainability through wider energy access and trade within the ECO Region and beyond.

Policy Environment

Energy demand will grow in pace with the socio-economic development of ECO Member Countries, requiring adequate, efficient, equitable and affordable provision of energy resources and services. In this connection it is imperative to develop and consolidate common efforts to ensure regional energy sustainability and resilience, in line with the Global Sustainable Development Goals and in coherence with other energy related activities and projections envisaged in this Vision. Achieving above strategic objective requires a supportive policy environment which shall include, among others,

broad political consensus and involvement of all stakeholders from public and private sectors. Identification of energy mix is the independent decision of countries according to their national circumstances and priorities.

III.       Expected Outcomes

Efforts will be made for harmonisation and alignment towards regional power / electricity market within the ECO Region for harnessing benefits of larger integrated systems.

  1.            I.               Energy trade, production, consumption and transit patterns will be enhanced.
  2.          II.       Enhanced policy coherence for mainstreaming objectives of the SDGs and ‘UN sustainable energy for all’ will be encouraged.
  3.         III.       ECO Member Countries will be encouraged for deployment of environmental-friendly energy technologies in order to mitigate adverse environmental footprints of the energy transfer and trade.
  4.        IV.       ECO countries will be encouraged for clean utilization of their resources.
  5.         V.       More diverse and resilient energy architecture in the Region will be supported through transformation to renewable, as well as cleaner and sustainable energy sources. ECO Clean Energy Centre will be established.
  6.        VI.       Promotion of energy investments through advocating innovative incentives and close engagements with regional and global IFIs and development banks will be encouraged.
  7.       VII.       To the widest extent possible, relevant energy efficiency goals and objectives will be achieved at the ECO regional level.
  8.     VIII.       Institutional advisory mechanism will be established for crafting policy linkages.
  9. Strategic Objective

       D.  TOURISM

To establish a peaceful and green tourism destination with diverse products and high quality services in the region.

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